THE Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has said Zambia needs to improve statistical information on agricultural production and food consumption to help optimise the production capacity of farmers.
FAO has observed that making data available on national food and agricultural statistics in areas that produce particular foods would significantly improve the agriculture sector in Zambia and many African countries.
To overcome this challenge, FAO has undertaken a programme to create a database for all agriculture-related statistics called CountrySTAT which would feed into the global system called FAOSTAT covering more than 200 countries and territories.
FAO CountrySTAT project officer Julia Stone said the programme would help the farmers and dealers in agricultural produce have information pertaining to agricultural produce.
Ms Stone said the data would help people locate areas where the produce would be found, especially that it would be collecting all the data from all the food and agricultural institutions in the country and carrying agricultural surveys.
"There are instances where there is a shortage of certain crops like soya beans which can be found in the countryside, but under the countrySTAT programme all the information will be provided," she said.
Stakeholders in the agriculture sector contended that there was little information on the availability of some of the agricultural produce in the country, especially among small-scale farmers.
Speaking in Lusaka at the Agriculture Consultative Forum stakeholders meeting, Ms Stone said the programme would also be involved in the provision of quality and coordinated national statistics by merging all the data from different food balance sheets and food security analyses.
Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock development principal economist, Dingiswayo Banda observed that there was lack of information in the agriculture sector, which he said would be addressed by working in collaboration with CountrySTAT.
"The project has links to other information systems including FAOSTAT, Regional STAT and the global information and early warning system work station which will help Zambia significantly," he said.